Chinese legislators have decided to go the route of most nations by passing the nation’s first law which makes use of drugs an illegal activity. The bill says owners and managers of discos, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues are responsible to report drug takers to the police or face punishment. Police are authorized to search people and their luggage for illegal drugs at key public places such as train stations, long-distance bus stations and border crossings. The law does allow drug users to undergo recovery programs within their own communities rather than being imprisoned. Among the drugs listed in the law are opium, heroin, and marijuana.
Making drug use an illegal activity is a sure-fire way to increase the number of people residing in jails. China has an opportunity to go in a direction other than the American model which emphasizes punishment rather than assistance to those using drugs. This particular law which places responsibility on owners of establishments opens a pandora’s box of corruption as these individuals will soon be engaging in illegal payments to police in order to avoid being arrested. China, welcome to the world of jails and corruption.
A new underground movement involves women furtively seeking refuge in homes where they gather wit fellow conspirators in fighting the oppressive Islamic fundamentalist males who believe women caring for their hair or personal appearance is a violation of their religion. A few years ago in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, hair salons were thriving just as they had under the regime of Saddam, but the installation of Islamic leaders led to the suppression of this feminist desire for beauty. Islamic extremists will not allow women to appear beautiful in public and beginning two years ago, many salons were blown up, several hair stylists killed, and others forced to close their shops. These same religious fanatics have also targeted liquor stores, barbershops and churches.
A Turkish reporter visited one of the salons where stylist Kifah, commented: “See this salon? It’s never been empty, nor through the Iraq-Iran war, the Gulf war, or this war. Women are women, they always want to look good.” She will not allow her full name to be revealed, citing the case two weeks ago in the city of Mosul when gunmen stormed the home of a woman who was running an underground hair salon and killed her. Last year, extremists blew up the beauty shop of Umm Doha who commented that two other salons were also destroyed in the same attack. She now operates out of her home as do many other hair stylists.
We Americans made Iraq free. We gave them freedom to abuse women, to drive Christians from their nation, and to install fundamentalist thugs who roam the streets of major cities intimidating women. In Basra, the police chief estimates over 40 women have ben killed in the past two years for their inappropriate “attire.” Such are the benefits of the Bush program for democracy.
Hamas has strengthened security and arrested several members of the Islamic militant group following the arrest of several people who are believed to have been engaged in discussions with Israelis as well as with Arab and western intelligence agencies. These men were supposedly involved in a plot to assassinate senior Hamas leaders in the Gaza strip, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Several key Hamas leaders, including Sami Bu Zuhri, a prominent spokesperson, were summoned for questioning about their ties with Israel and other nations. Zuhri denies he was questioned and claims the rumors are being spread by Fatah supporters of President Abbas. The Israel Defense Force recently killed two top Hamas leaders who played an important role in firing rockets and rumors suggest their deaths may have been due to information provided the IDF by Hamas sources.
Hamas officials have reportedly expressed the view their organization has been infiltrated by Israeli intelligence which is now receiving information about rocket launches against Israel. Hamas, like most terror based organizations, runs the risk that some people grow tired of fighting and simply want some peace and quiet and a sense of normality. Hamas can break the present stalemate with Israel by throwing out a challenge — we will halt all rocket attacks and we expect all Israel military actions to cease against the Gaza Strip.
The nation of Kenya is experiencing a free election in which an opposition candidate apparently will gain the most votes and oust the present leader, President Kibaki. Unofficial results indicate that Alia Odinga, who once was a political prisoner is surging ahead with about 57% of the vote compared to Kibaki’s 39%. If Kibaki loses he will become the first Kenya leader to be ousted from office since the nation obtained its independence in 1963. At the parliamentary level, Odinga supporters are expected to obtain about 31 of 41 seats already decided. The fight against government corruption was an important theme of the Odinga candidacy and results indicate that vice-pesident Moody Awori has also lost his seat together with several other members of the cabinet.
The good news is a fair election took place and someone was defeated and will now leave office. This is the process all nations must experience. We Americans first had the experience in 1800 when John Adams left quietly and Thomas Jefferson became the first opposition candidate to gain office. Congratulations to the people of Kenya.
Angry mobs of Bhutto followers are now raging through the streets and provinces of Pakistan venting their anger at the death of a leader who they felt could restore democracy in their land and, hopefully, address issues of terrorism. Police are firing at demonstrators, bands of youth are closing down factories and other angry Pakistanis are burning cars, and, even ambulances as people attempt to find a way to express their emotions of fury at what has happened to their leader. President Musharraf announced thee days of mourning but made no mention of a state of emergency not did he indicate any change in the upcoming election for a new parliament. Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, his political party, are reportedly now in hiding and they even have switched off their cell phones to escape detection.
Benazir Bhutto originally returned to Pakistan hoping to forge some type of alliance with Musharraf, but the president’s blunders in denying entry to Nawaz Sharif, sacking the supreme court, and then declaring a state of emergency helped set the stage for the current situation. There is scant doubt many members of the Musharraf military and Intelligence agents did not look favorably on Ms. Bhutto and strong suspicion exists they somehow are connected to the assassination. That is the horn of the dilemma– Musharraf’s own people disagree with efforts to ally with the United States or to attack terrorism. The Taliban originally were supplied and aided by the Pakistan Intelligence sector and undoubtedly many of those same people hate America hate secularism as personified by Bhutto.
Where does Pakistan go from here? The prospects are not good. Nawaz Sharif never completely shared the secular ideas of Bhutto and her party, at this point, lacks a figure who approaches her stature. An important step that Musharraf can take is restoring the Supreme Court judges to give a semblance of legality to the situation and entrusting them with responsibility for ensuring there is a fair election. Pakistan will have to wait for another figure to emerge who can lead their nation from the confusion that has been the product of Musharrafism.
Posted in Asia, George Bush, Human Rights, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, War, World News
Tagged assassination Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf
The Bush year of confusion and incompetence is now concluding with the disaster that is looming in Pakistan and the growing realization among many European Union nations that war in Afghanistan is reaching a dead end. Israel and the Palestinians struggle to find the where-with-all to create a peace process out of the confusion that was Annapolis and there is considerable doubt anything of importance will emerge in the early months of the new year. The only certainty one can make about the debacle that has been gradually building among members of the Bush administration is that something will be changing in the coming months.
Several months ago Rudy Giuliani burst on the scene with high expectations that simply relying on what Senator Joe Biden terms the famous message of the former New York mayor — “a noun, a verb, and 9/11″ would serve to catapult him into the presidency. After several months one can see the fatigue in Rudy’s face as people grow bored and learn more about him, all of which only serves to lower his poll ratings. Mitt Romney has become a joke because he will change his mind if a voter asks him to do so. Fred Thompson makes everyone go to sleep and poor John McCain struggles to get a word in that impacts upon people. Is the Huckabee horse which is surging to the front the change that America seeks? Or is it the nineteenth century message of Ron Paul that allows free reign to “individuals” and we can resurrect the old Robber Baron mentality that once made certain workers had no rights and minorities knew their place– at the rear of the bus?
Or, is the change coming from Hillary or Barack or John who basically argue the same ideas although they each have an individual wrapping for the present to America? It appears Hillary lacks the human quality which enabled men like Ronald Reagan to resonate with large sectors of the American population whose economic lives would be damaged by the former actor’s election? Perhaps, neophyte Barack Obama will be the voice of change since he does connect with large portions of the population, and with the good lord’s help by Pastor Oprah, he might yet gain the nomination.
Fast forward to January, 2009, and we know that a change will begin in America. Hopefully, the change will witness the end of dysfunctional Middle Eastern policies and a decision to initiate new policies in Afghanistan that would lead to some sort of resolution of what is now a quagmire of bewilderment. Iraq is still with us and will be with us in January, 2009, the only question is which Iraq. Iran stands on the periphery of the Middle East and a question is whether or not a new American president can reach out through the fog of rhetoric on both sides and enter into genuine negotiation with that nation in order to help stabilize the region. A new president will have to be firm and resolute in making both Israel and Palestinians agree to compromise and stand down from some of their rhetoric in order to attain peace.
We hope the times they are a’changing because the present stagnation is maintaining the world as is rather than forging a new world in which issues are addressed and some form of compromise is attained. The famous Bob Dylan song of the 1960s insisted the old had to get out of the way of the young because the times they were a’changing. If that is the message, then Barack Obama appears to be the voice of the current times that will be changing.
Posted in Barack Obama, Conservatives, Democrats, Dick Cheney, Fred Thompson, George Bush, Hilary Clinton, Human Rights, Iraq War, Islam, Judaism, Liberals, Mitt Romney, Muslims, Peace, Politics, Republicans, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, United States, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged 2008, political change